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milieu: a summer by the lake with Lindy Dodge

milieu: a summer by the lake with Lindy Dodge

Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu.

Our next feature brings us to the Pacific Northwest in Washington State to visit Lindy Dodge. Lindy lives with her husband and three children in a beautiful homestead by the lake. Whether she is reupholstering her latest antique find or quilting a patchwork masterpiece, her projects never cease to impress and inspire. (Plus, she’s often sharing how-to’s! What could be more inspiring than a project that you could actually attempt?)

We were thrilled to step into Lindy’s lakeside home to pick her brain about her love of antiques, the beauty of sewing, and summertime by the water with her growing family.

Please, introduce yourself 🙂

Hello! I’m Lindy, I live with my husband and children in Washington State in the beautiful PNW. I am a mother of 5-year-old twin girls, a boy nearing 2 and a new baby girl due in October. I am incredibly passionate about home and the breadth of what home is and am ever striving to create an environment where purposeful work is nurtured. We sew, we make pottery, we reupholster old thrift store chairs I drag home. We value the process of creating and put our hands to work in these meaningful ways.

Can you tell us a bit about the place you’re currently living in?

Our plans had been to build a home on the water with a little acreage and we spent the last 2 years touring the state for land. My husband was building his company, working from home until just recently when he merged the company and our plans then changed to be within commuting distance to the new office. We sold our home and found the most charming lakeside rental while we wait for something that feels right to come up on the market. The timing was perfect, Spring had just arrived and we envisioned a warm season of lake days. We are enjoying just that!

What do you love most about being so near the lakefront?

The availability of joyous family fun, as cheesy as that sounds! The draw to be near water is so real for me. It offers so much. I love that I can take the kids down there in rain or shine and we don’t need anything more to entertain us. The kids could play for hours making boats, finding critters and dangling their feet in the water.

What does your dream home look like? Where in the world would (or will!) it be?

A stately Georgian home with double chimneys and long wood windows by the sea. An English pebble driveway with an abundant garden and a little detached shingle studio for sewing and pottery. We are drawn to so many places; We’ve heavily weighed moving to Santa Barbara or Charleston, but realistically, it’s so good to be near family here in Washington. Whidbey Island, Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Gig Harbor are idyllic seaside towns.

How would you describe the aesthetic style of your home?

Always hard to answer this one as I’m inspired by so many aesthetics, but I think natural and traditional is a good way to describe it. I like the formality and lines of a traditional classic home, with heavy use of natural, earthy materials and textures; all types of wood tones and lots and lots of antiques.

Which piece in your home do you feel has the most unique story?

Oh, I love the details – they bring me so much joy. The messy handwriting etched onto the bottom of a marble jewellery dish, “made in Italy”. The piece of brown paper, that someone wrote in pencil, (French, I think, but the cursive is so hard to make out, I’ve never been able to translate it) nailed to the underside of my 1800s kitchen island. The needlepoint in my girls’ room, was stitched by “Lois Banks” sometime in the early 1900s. And the Larkin desk I use as my bedside table; around 1901 Larkin would offer customers points or certificates when purchasing from their catalogues to be used towards their furniture pieces. This desk is made of quarter-sawn golden oak and was redeemed for 5 certificates or $10 worth of Larkin products.

You are often sharing sewing projects that have us all kinds of inspired! When did you fall in love with sewing?

My mother instilled in me the confidence to create just by her example. I watched her sew every day of my childhood and while I don’t ever remember too many sit-down, formal lessons from her, it was so a part of my life that I can’t even pinpoint when I picked it up. I’d say I’ve been sewing for over 25 years now.

Might you have advice or words of inspiration for people who have always wanted to, but have been a bit intimidated to get behind a sewing machine?)

Sewing is my most treasured skill. I could not implore you enough to learn. My biggest tip when wanting to learn: keep at it. Don’t give up when you reach the frustrating bits. I’m not saying a fancy machine is necessary to start or to learn on, but I will say that a good quality machine will perform much better and save you loads of headaches. Little things like loopy bobbin thread or faulty tension may make you want to quit when learning that could be entirely avoided with good tools and machinery. I suggest finding a Bernina, Pfaff or Husqvarna secondhand. If you want to get into garment construction, then invest in an overlocker serger (I LOVE my Huskylock 936) to prevent the edges on the clothing you make from fraying in the wash.

I think another hurdle to overcome in the beginning is the sewing lingo, especially when it comes to reading patterns. It can feel like a foreign language but I’d suggest printing off a little sewing lingo cheat sheet to put next to your machine for reference and when you reach a step that you don’t understand, Youtube comes in handy! I still look things up all the time even after all of these years. To get you familiar with your machine, go take a class at a local shop or community centre! And also, make sewing a normal part of your life/day. I get a lot of questions about how I find the time to sew while mothering children and the answer is that sewing has become a natural rhythm of our life. It isn’t put away when not in use; it has its own station in the house and it’s ready and available to use, even for little hands to use (safely and supervised) when they’ve ripped their dress or a button becomes loose. I will say it’s so fulfilling when the skill you’ve worked at for so many years becomes refined and you can feel yourself mastering it. Keep at it!

Are there any current or future projects you’re especially excited about right now?

Oh, so many going at all times! I just finished building and upholstering an ottoman for our bonus room and I’m so happy with how it turned out. Right now I’m making some linen drapes for the living room with a little scalloped cornice board to complement the detail on the Spanish baroque desk and I’m very excited to see it come together. Also, I have summer dresses on my mind to accommodate the growing bump and finishing the hand quilting on the new baby’s quilt.

What are some favourite summer activities that you look forward to enjoying with your family this season?

Berry picking and pie making, swimming and boating on the lake, crabbing on the sound. We make almost every mealtime a picnic in the summer, which I think is a perfect way to create those fond childhood memories with your kids.

What does a typical summer day look like right now for you and your growing family?

We relish our summer days. For years I’d ask my girls, “what do you want to do today?” and the answer every morning had been, “stay home”. I’ve always thought this to be a high compliment; that we’ve created something so worthy of staying for. As they’ve gotten older the answer has remained but our days through the fall and spring have been full with school commitments; music and ballet. All this to say, our summer days without those commitments are carefree and reminiscent of those stay-home years when they were so small. Mostly I let them guide us; we garden, sew, swim, farmers’ market on Tuesdays and antiquing on Fridays. We stay up late roasting marshmallows at our fireplace and watch movies as a family almost every night.

Who or what are some of your biggest design inspirations?

Antiques. The way they can completely make a room with all their history, charm and patina. I am absolutely in wonder of the lives they’ve lived, and often think about their past owners. Some of my most treasured items date back to the 1800’s and earlier. What a remarkably different time. Also, light; The way it fills a home at different times of day and seasons. The ebb and flow of life; it inspires me.

To see more of Lindy’s beautifully curated collection of antiques and ongoing projects (where she’ll often share insights and tips!), we highly recommend you follow along with her on Instagram.

Browse Lindy’s favourites:

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